If you’re reading this, you are probably still alive in one or more leagues. I’m in two Head-to-Head finals — so far, so good in both — and still trying to improve on third place in our Elimination Roto league with just seven days remaining in the season.
LAL @ GSW: Although Kobe Bryant (shin) didn’t play, he looks close to a return on either Friday or Sunday. Andrew Bynum (31 PTS, 9 REB) and Pau Gasol (22 PTS, 11 REB, 11 AST, 3 BLK) were stellar and Metta World Peace (18 PTS, 9 AST) continued his recent strong play. Nate Robinson (hamstring) sat out along with several other injured Warriors.
MIL @ WAS: Without much fanfare, Nene returned, scoring 14 points in 18 minutes off the bench. That may not be great news if you’re riding Kevin Seraphin (14 in 29 minutes) but it helped the Wizards to a surprise win, led by 32 from Jordan Crawford. The Bucks somehow lost a game they desperately needed, despite big contributions from Monta Ellis (31) and Drew Gooden (21 PTS, 12 REB, 6 AST)
PHI @ CLE: Kyrie Irving returned after missing nine games with a shoulder injury, scoring 9 points in 19:38, but the Cavaliers are still awful. The Sixers are now up 2.5 games over Milwaukee for the final playoff spot, as Jrue Holiday scored 24 and Andre Iguodala (19 PTS, 13 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK) did a little of everything.
CHI @ CHA: No Derrick Rose, no Luol Deng, no problem. Richard Hamilton (22) led the Bulls to a laughably easy win over a laughably horrible Charlotte team. Kemba Walker had 16 & 5 as the lone bright spot.
DET @ ATL: Blowouts were the order of the night as teams playing out the string faced playoff-bound opponents. Garbage time came so early in this one that nobody had a great line, but Ivan Johnson (16 & 10) could be useful in Atlanta’s remaining four games.
NYK @ NJN: Pretty much what I expected, as Carmelo Anthony (33) and J.R. Smith (15) did enough to win over a Nets team without Deron Williams (calf) and with journeyman Sundiata Gaines (18 PTS, 6 AST, 6 REB) running the point. Gerald Williams returned with 21 points after missing four games.
TOR @ MIA: Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (rest) weren’t needed and even LeBron James (28) played just 30 minutes as the Heat scorched what’s left of the Raptors. James Johnson had 18 off the bench in the losing cause.
ORL @ BOS: Another superb performance by Paul Pierce (29 PTS, 14 AST, 5 REB) powered the Celtics. Rajon Rondo sat out to rest a sore back, so Avery Bradley had 23 in 36 minutes. Glen Davis (knee) was back after missing only one game and scored 27 points for the Magic.
NOH @ MEM: Led by Rudy Gay, whose 26 points marked four games in a row with 24+, the Grizzlies did enough to win. Undrafted rookie Jerome Dyson came off the Hornets’ bench to score 24 points and hurt the value of Greivis Vasquez, who had 9 PTS and 9 AST in 26 minutes.
HOU @ DAL: It’s all falling apart at the wrong time for the Rockets, losers of five straight. Goran Dragic had 20 PTS and 10 AST, but they couldn’t stop Dirk Nowitzki (35) and all of a sudden, Vince Carter (23) is showing some energy off the bench.
LAC @ DEN: The Clippers continue to roll behind Chris Paul (21 PTS, 8 AST) while Denver keeps waiting for Danilo Gallinari (0-for-7) to find his stroke. Kenyon Martin didn’t have an impressive line all night, but his late tip-in and a timely blocked shot helped beat his former team.
UTA @ POR: Clinging to eighth place, the Jazz were able to handle the depleted Blazers. Devin Harris (27) was the unlikely hero. Portland started Nolan Smith (16) at PG as Raymond Felton (Achilles) sat, and an ineffective Nicolas Batum — another likely shutdown candidate — gave way to Luke Babbitt (16) to start the second half.
OKC @ PHO: A heartbreaking loss for Phoenix, as James Harden, who once starred for Arizona State, poured in a career-high 40 points. Jared Dudley led the Suns with 21, but their odds of making the playoffs got a bit longer, with another very difficult game tonight.
SAS @ SAC: A typical Spurs game, with 12 men seeing the floor, Tim Duncan getting a scheduled night of rest and a seemingly effortless 25-point win. Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal each scored 17 off the bench. Sacramento has nothing to play for, but Isaiah Thomas had 21 & 8.
MIL @ IND: The Pacers have won 10 of 11 this month to sew up home-court advantage in the first playoff round, and the Bucks lost a game last night they absolutely “had to” win. George Hill is the new PG, as there’s no rush for Darren Collison to return. Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger are also playing very well.
MIN @ DET: It’s a weird streak for sure, but the Timberwolves haven’t won an April game in three years. However, the Pistons are finishing a back-to-back-to-back and lost by 32 last night. I’m going to key on J.J. Barea in all my DraftStreet leagues and hope Nikola Pekovic can limp around on those sore ankles for at least one more game.
HOU @ NOH: The first of two remaining must-win games for the Rockets against New Orleans. Both teams will be tired but Houston is desperate. Marcus Camby had 11 points and 17 rebounds last night; it would help if he’s able to do that again. Luis Scola is another good matchup against the Hornets, who are running out of healthy big men.
CHI @ MIA: This may be more like playing possum than a playoff preview; both teams are more interested in staying healthy than winning. Top seed in the East is still at stake, and with Bosh and Wade back in the lineup, Miami has the edge.
LAC @ PHO: Two tired teams square off in the late game. The Clippers would like to catch the Lakers, a half-game ahead in the Pacific Division, but the Suns have even more motivation — they are a half-game out of eighth place. Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat need to step up tonight; I’m not totally confident they can.
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|Sure Things||Over $14,000|
|Hunches||$9,000 to $14,000|
My three teams in the $5 Salary Cap league were out of the money last night; I used Al Jefferson instead of Pau Gasol. I also joined a $5 Snake-Draft, finishing 4th of six teams. The $20 loss leaves the Week 7 bankroll at just $64 from the original hundred bucks, but we’re back at it this evening with three teams each in the $2 and $5 GPP leagues.
With only five games on tonight’s calendar, there aren’t as many options as usual at the top and bottom ends. My instinct is to try lineups with guys in the “Hunches” category; eight players with a $100,000 cap is an average of $12,500 and there are a few possibilities in that range.
Draft Street is always free to join and it’s easy to get started by playing in free leagues for credits.